Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Big, Fluffy Kitty Has Spoken.

Persephone is disappointed in The Sheep. She knows me well. She is one of the few who can point out my bad behavior without fear. She is really, really fluffy. And it is getting cold. I need the extra layer on my feet at night.

Here are her concerns:

You seem to be under the impression that, simply because you finished one pair of socks and a Chevron Stripes Towel, you are excused from discussing knitting on the blog. You think you are fooling people by rambling on about poorly dyed jeans or your insane dining-in-public fears. You are not. You have been puttering along on things, yarn-wise. Everybody knows it. The wheel has been still for weeks now. There is fiber languishing all over the house awaiting your less than skilled touch.

Sure, you can string a few words together in a pretty engaging fashion. But that will not distract them for long. The bloggy types out there will catch on eventually. You need to admit that you are stuck yet again in the land of Unfinished Objects. People will actually respect you more for your honesty than for your ongoing discussions of rashes or failure to understand sorbet.

And now you think you are going to do a post on Halloween candy? Let's face it. You made the decision to buy a large bag of the sweet stuff "just in case" a trick or treater shows his or her masked face at your door. This has not happened in years. Literally. The only person who is buying this line is you. And you sitting there noshing on a cheddar cheese flavored rice cake is also something of a pretense. You will be eating the candy. You will probably eat the whole bag. This does not for good blogging make. It is just sad. And stop dropping cheddar flavored crumbs all over me while I warm your lap. I am not the one who likes the rice cakes. That is my sister, Desdemona.

Here's my advice: bag the whole candy thing. Don't bother trying to come up with yet another witty topic to engage the readers in the hopes that they will be distracted from your lack of progress. They are smarter than that. Be it finished or not, these people deserve a sock shot. You spent almost an hour on the little bike today and knit for a good chunk of that time. You've got some progress, there!

C'mon! You can do this...

The big, fluffy kitty is right. There must be some knitting on a knitting blog. It is a rule or something. I am grateful to have such a helpful feline around to point out that which I cannot always admit to myself. Sheep are truly the masters of denial...

So, here you go! One almost completed sock. With the feline supervisor in attendance.
I'm thinking that I might get this one finished before the weekend. I have a late meeting on Thursday night and would like to take sock #2 along for the ride. We'll see how that one plays out.
Happy Halloween to all and sundry. The Sheep will be safely tucked away in her home, far from the ghosties and goblins and knitting away on her sock. Nothing scary here, folks!
Unless you count the talking cat...

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Sheep Will See And Be Seen!

Another classroom scene for your consideration:

The room is, for a brief moment, empty of children. Ms. Sheep listens in as her twenty-something (and clearly more worldly) teaching assistants discuss the best ways in which one may cleanse the palate between dinner courses. While they are in general agreement on the consumption of a light sorbet, they decide they must consult with one older and wiser for clarification. Two spry, young pairs of eyes affix themselves upon their supervisor, eager for her words of wisdom in this matter. The Sheep nods her head sagely, strokes her chin a few times then intones:

Well, once I've finished my fries, I often will take a sip of my Diet Coke before moving on to my Big Mac. Of course, this means that I have to drive with my knees for a minute or so...

I think I may have lost some supervisory status with my staff. Neither has met my eye for more than a second or two since this conversation took place. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a spearmint sorbet.

But it got me to thinkin'. Clearly, this Sheep has been somewhat lax in her social activities of late. I don't get out much. At some point over the last few years, the world has taken some strange turns and the young folk are now eating at restaurants where food comes in courses and palates must be cleansed. Kids today... In my day, we ate out of Styrofoam. And we liked it!! But I think I might need to leave the house every once in a while. You know, just to "keep up."

To that end, I have opted to accept an invitation to dine with some co-workers from job #2 this Friday evening after the day's toil is complete. That's right. You heard me. I will be "out." On a Friday. When it is dark outside. This has generated a whole series of concerns and obsessions. I don't remember the last time I was in public after hours. I am composing an email to my boss (who has organized this little field trip) with a few questions whose answers might help ease my socially underdeveloped mind:

Is our dining destination one which will be accepting of The Sheep's newly overdyed Eddie Bauer jeans? Or does she need to find alternate clothing? Will there be ironing involved? This may require sedation of some sort...

What is the fork situation? One? Two? More than two??? I only ask because I sometimes become a tiny bit flustered in the presence of multiple dining utensils. The brain seizes a little bit and I zero in on one fork. I will eat any and all courses with that one piece of silverware, including the soup course. I develop a meaningful relationship with it. Woe be to the wait staff member who attempts to clear the table and whisk away my new forky friend.

Will there be carts involved? I don't do well with carts, particularly those of the dessert or cheese variety. Overwhelmed by the choices, I will either be rendered incapable of deciding or will demand one of everything offered. The tone I use is at least three octaves higher than my normal speaking voice and will only rise higher. It is likely that I will become so overstimulated by the plethora of possibilities that I will simply dive into the lobster tank to avoid having to make any final decisions.

Now, about the placemats: I like to color mine. Will that be a problem? I will gladly bring my own crayons. Unless, of course, that is considered impolite. I will happily use those provided. And while we are on the subject, would it be possible to get an extra? I sometimes mess up on the word scrambles and I don't think there will be any other children there to assist me in finishing it.

I'm sure I will come up with a few others between now and Friday evening, but this should give me a few things to work on in the interim. Really, I think this will be quite good for me. I might even wear heels! Oh, and that cute little evening purse that I bought umpty gajillion years ago in the event that just such a sudden social occasion should arise!

But I don't have the foggiest idea how I will fit my sock-in-progress in there...


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Electricity...Work It While You Got It.

But don't try to upload pictures. Blogger is having indigestion. Once it has itself a nice big burp, I'm sure it'll be just fine. Meanwhile, you can all exercise your imaginations. It'll be fun! Just think of all the new neural pathways you'll be building while you work the big grey melon!

Today was, in fact, a fairly productive day in The Sheep household. Yesterday's storm and resulting power outage left me wandering from pillar to post and not quite knowing what to do with my Sheepie self. I had a bit of make-up time coming to me.

First up: a little obsession indulgence. I blame Lazuli, really. She posted not too long ago about the art of granola making. I have a genuine affection for granola as it kept me alive for a while last spring when I was ill and not really eating all that much. I just didn't make my own what with all the time spent in x-ray and sleeping. But, I do like homemade granola and thought this might be a nice weekend to crank out a batch. Gotta say, this was not my best work. But it is tasty and will be delightful sprinkled over the yogurt. And it has NO RAISINS! I have an on again/off again thing with the raisins. Mostly off. I went with the dried cranberries. So much more colorful! I also used some nummy roasted soybeans... I did miss something, though. When I figure out what I did differently this time and correct it, I'll pop up the recipe.

Next up: correcting Eddie Bauer's errors. I recently purchased a perfectly-fitting pair of jeans from my favorite off-price store. Twenty bucks (US) thank-you-very-much. I'm thinking that the store's low lighting policy might have more behind it than just a tight energy budget. The jeans were dyed in what I can only describe as the "intentionally distressed" fashion. I don't object to that. However these were lightened along the front and left darker along the sides and inner leg. Again...that could work. However, this particular dye-job left me looking for all the world as if I'd had, um...an "accident." This was not readily apparent until I viewed the jeans in natural light. While this may have been a good look for The Sheep when she was two, it is not the fashion statement she wants to be making now. I've reached the stage of life where sneezing and peeing are sorta the same thing, I realize. But that doesn't mean I have to surrender to it completely.

Fortunately, there is a lovely product with which I have an excellent working relationship and who has bailed me out of many a clothing crisis: Rit Dye. Readily available at any grocery store, it can take a garment of boring hue and make it purty again. And it can overdye that which is questionably colored. The only color they had at the store was navy blue, but it worked and I now have a consistently dyed pair of jeans. Phew! I mean, really! Isn't there anyone in quality control at the jeans plant who has the courage to say, "you know, Bob...this might not be quite what we were aiming for,"?

Lastly: Oh, Great Googly Moogly, the holidays are coming!!! Despite an overwhelming urge to knit a sock for my Sheepie self, I put others ahead of me and worked on the Feather And Fan scarf. I am a "giver." Self-sacrificing to a fault. I might even get this thing finished in time to give it to someone and bathe in the glow of their gratitude. Maybe...

Well, I've done my best to create some mental pictures for you all in lieu of pixels. If Blogger successfully passes it's stone or does whatever it needs to do in order to upload photos, I will share. Meanwhile, I bid you all a pleasant week and First Day Of Standard Type Time for those who did the whole "fall back" thing today. Know what this means, don't you?

A Sheep can put on her pajamas an hour earlier and settle in with some granola!


Saturday, October 28, 2006

More On Biking...And Darkness.

The Sheep has been sitting in her darkened condo today while Armageddon rages outside. We are having a little "weather event" that has showered us with buckets of rain and winds somewhere around 60 mph. Suffice it to say, the power went out pretty early in the day. I sorta suspected that this might be the case and ran all my errands at a ridiculously early hour and set up a variety of little projects that could be completed without electricity.

You know how you always say you're going to do all this great stuff when you don't have all the mod. cons? I had great hopes for knitting, spinning and perhaps even getting some Merino blended with the metallic gold that my stylist requested for her holiday handwarmers.

I did very little of this.

Instead, I got all antsy and spent some quality time worrying about the stuff in the freezer and whether it was growing some new strain of bacteria that will kill me when I try to eat it. A few inches on the Feather And Fan Scarf is all I have to report.

And even that wasn't exactly something upon which I could focus. Around 1:00 or so I started up this cool little brain movie that featured The Sheep on some public access channel hosting her very own exercise show. She was seated on a threadbare couch, pedaling away on her little bike and knitting a never-ending Chevron Stripes Towel. Instead of the usual training-type patter, she was publicly obsessing over whether she had enough pairs of underwear to last through the winter and telling everyone they could quit after just one more row!

I have an odd, but rich fantasy life...

At any rate, I am so pleased to hear that my story of A Sheep and her wee little bike has been helpful to folks out there. In answer to a few of the questions and comments, I'll elaborate a bit further. Nuthin' I loves more than the elaboratin'!!!

As I mentioned, I found the bike that resides in Chez Sheep through Ebay. I honestly don't know the brand name or manufacturer, but can help you out with that in just a sec. I browsed through the fitness section using search words like, "fitness pedaler," "miniature bike," and the like. There were multiple listings and it was really a matter of finding a blue one. I like blue...

Oh, and then there were the finances. I was coming off a short unemployment stint and was paying off a few things at the time. Thus, I had to work within a certain budget. I chose to go with what looked like a mid-range model. It is a plastic housing with a tension band that controls the resistance and a battery operated calorie/distance counter and timer. Pretty basic, although there were others even more minimalistic.

To be perfectly honest, had cost not been a consideration I might have chosen a sturdier model. The one I have does tend to slip a bit on certain surfaces when I'm really whipping along, but that problem was handily solved with a non-slip mat. The only problem I've had with it other than that is a pedal falling off. I put it back on. Problem solved and never repeated. Even if my little bike were to fall into littler pieces tomorrow, I would feel pretty secure in having gotten my money's worth. It has been used regularly for almost three years and has done it's duty honorably. When I replace it, though, I will probably look for one that is heavier. Now that I know it is something I will use regularly, I will feel less guilty spending a few more dollars. That said, I would recommend this model to anyone who wanted to try it.

Funny thing, though. I've never once seen this bike outside Ebay. I was at a loss as to where else I could send people to find this item should they want one for their very own selves. But, it seems we have a super-sleuth in our midst!

Geraldine sent me an email this morning asking if this was, by any chance, the same bike that has supported my Sheepie hooves lo these many years. Imagine my surprise! She found it!!! Seriously...if you've lost something or have a need to apprehend some well-hidden criminal or something, ask Geraldine!!! I bow to her superior sleuthing skills. She cooks, she crafts, she writes...and she's a detective. Who knew??? Thanks, G!

I'm going to do a quick edit on this post then get it up on them internets while I still have the power to do so. The wind is whipping pretty impressively out there and I don't want to have to re-type this! Here's hoping that tomorrow I have more in the way of knitting progress to share with you all.

Maybe I should try riding the bike for a while...


Thursday, October 26, 2006

She Pedals Like The Wind...

Well, I hate to say it...but The Sheep has had a somewhat uneventful day. I did go to the grocery store and that is generally good for a lengthy observation or two. But, there was only an encounter with "The Fruit Whisperer." She is that charming creature who blocks Shopping Sheep from the kiwi as she fondles individual pieces of produce hoping to lure the choicest samples from the melon herd. It was pretty smooth shopping by my standards.

However, a few folks have left comments or questions with regard to my "biking and knitting" exercise program. I figured that, since this is one of those activities in which I engage regularly and a fairly interesting back-story, I'd share. I've also noted an increasing interest in weight control or improved fitness out there in the blogosphere-at-large and this is my own little entry in that category. Of course, it wouldn't be a Sheepish Annie post without a lengthy prequel. Here's how I started on the fitness trail:

I have been plagued with ups 'n downs in the girth department for much of my adult life. Sometimes I was within a comfortable range. Other times...not so much. However, my mid to late thirties were marked by a widening of this Sheep to a noticeable degree. There were many milestones during that time, some good, some ill. Each was marked by the consumption of cake. And cookies. And french fries. If it didn't move, I ate it. If it didn't move fast enough, I ate it. I suspect I was eating in my sleep at one point, there.

And, not surprisingly, my health took a little turn for the worse. I had frequent colds, bronchitis, stomach problems, high blood pressure and foot pain. My doctor patiently tried to explain to me why these things were happening. She was really quite kind about the whole thing. I responded as many of us do when confronted with our own bad behaviors. I haughtily told her that I was a busy Sheep and that I didn't have time to waddle to the gym. I also did not like the gym as everyone there was too obsessed with their overly developed bodies and just wanted to mock such mortals as myself. And living in a small condo was just not conducive to home fitness equipment. How does this translate into being "my fault?"

I also was far too busy with my schedule to count calories, but I was reasonably sure that I was not eating that much more than anyone else on the planet. That salient point was rendered moot by the fact that my mother had purchased a plethora of Girl Scout cookies from my doctor's daughter and had shared just how many of those boxes were coming my way...that was an uncomfortable moment.

But, more to the point, how dare she question my health habits? I was paying her, wasn't I? Was it not her duty to tell me what I wanted to hear with regard to my health, rather than make me feel badly?

Feel sorry for Dr. Judy. She is a very sweet lady and undeserving of a patient such as The Sheep.

Finally, in a last ditch effort to sell me on doing something about my increasing blood sugar levels and cholesterol, she mentioned something about a little bike. It was just the pedals. You could fit it anywhere and crank away to nowhere, burning calories all the while.

I would dearly love to tell you that I scampered from the doctor's office and went in search of this item. But I did not. "Scampering" was not something I could have done at that point without some sort of heart flutter. But it did stick somewhere in the back of my mind.

Months later while cruising through Ebay, I recalled this conversation with the good doctor and decided to see if such an item really existed. To my surprise, it did. And for thirty dollars, it could be mine. Within four days, it was unboxed, assembled and parked by the couch. I really didn't hold out much hope. I've tried other forms of exercise. None of them took.

But I gave it a shot. I started out slowly, 20 minutes or so at a pretty slow speed. Time passed. I was able to make it to 30 minutes and thought that I might try eating a little fruit during the day instead of doughnuts. I lost twenty pounds. I continued with the fruit thing and added some weights to the routine. Then I found a cool exercise ball. I discovered that my insurance company would reward me with points for my daily activity and that I could trade those points for free stuff. I lost thirty pounds. Then forty.



I went off my blood pressure medication. I didn't have to wear orthodics in my shoes anymore. I could wear high heels if I wanted to. One day, I stood up in my classroom and had to grab my pants before they fell down. I bought new clothes.

On my fortieth birthday, I wore a pair of size 6 jeans. On my forty-first birthday, I wore a size 4 pair.

And I swear to you, it all started with this:

I woke up the Big, Fluffy Kitty and made her stand there for scale. Big kitty, small bike...
I'm up to forty five minutes on the little bike followed fifteen minutes of quick weight training. I only do three days per week as any more than that feels like torture. And I'm going into year three. Why did this work when nothing else did? I suspect that it is because I can sit on my couch and knit while I bike. Or play GameBoy...I don't pretend to be an athlete...or an adult.
Yes, there are better forms of exercise. But if a Sheep won't do it, then its not exercise. Its money spent on a treadmill that could have been spent on yarn. And the fact that I could hang damp skeins on it to block does not make it a more economical purchase.
So there's tonight's bedtime story from your Auntie Sheepie. I probably could have shown you a picture of another half-finished sock, but I figured I could work the fiber motif in at some point in this tale. Oh, here's something...
Before poor, abused Dr. Judy made a last-ditch effort to get me on the road to health on a tiny little bike, I attempted to convince her that spinning fiber was cardio. To her credit, she thought about it for a minute.
It didn't fly.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

It Was A Flat And Greasy Kind Of Day. With Gaps.

Blah. Not, "Baaaa" like a happy Sheep. Blah. As in, "bleck." As in, that's what you would have said if you'd seen this harried Sheep today. I couldn't get out of my own way with a map and a passport...

I entered into some sort of weird limbo during the hair arranging process this morning and, apparently, missed a step somewhere along the line. It was clearly a vital and "fluff-inducing" step as I spent the remainder of the day looking at my hair and wondering how it could be so bereft of volume. I still have no idea what happened.

I was then so pleased with myself for locating the purple eyeshadow amongst the warpaints ('cause it perfectly matched today's sweater and all) that I somehow forgot to use the eyeliner. Now, I've managed to reign in my addiction to this magical substance over the years as I'm a bit older now and one has to use a lighter touch with this stuff after a certain point. But, I am "blessed" with somewhat deep-set eyes and need to assist the public at large in locating them.

Today I went eyeless. Too bad, because that purple eyeshadow was do die for.

I left the house with a cup of instant coffee in hand as that is all I seem to have in the house, but took heart as I was running ahead of schedule.

I thought.

I was actually running ten minutes behind schedule. Which you wouldn't think would make a difference. But it does.

And, since I was already looking so darned "stunning" today, the universe saw fit to place a zit of monumental proportions upon my face. That or I am growing a conjoined twin. Its a doozy. I'll have to consult the Starfleet Handbook, but I think it might meet several of the criteria for consideration as a sentient being. I don't know whether to pop it or name it.

This was really a great day to have round two of Parent/Teacher conferences. There I was in all my flat and greasy glory trying to sound all professional and make thought-provoking observations with regard to the education of children, but the whole time I was just thinking, "I wonder...if I fall asleep right now would my zit be able to carry on the conference in my stead?"


But, my conference schedule was light so I was able to crank out a few more rows on my scarf. That's always a perker-upper. While I reserve the right to call a time-out on this one, I do think that I might actually have a hand-made Christmas gift for some lucky member of my Sheepie circle. And, because I spread my conferences out over several days, I was allowed to whisk myself home at a very reasonable hour. Thus, I was able to indulge my greasy, flat-haired self with a few scoops of peanut butter straight from the jar for dinner and will still have plenty of time for sock knitting and prime time TV. Every day has it's bright points, you see.

For the record, I didn't really want the peanut butter. I wanted a healthy salad and something made of whole grains. But the zit really seemed to have it's heart set on the peanut butter and I'm kind of scared of it...


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Sheep Believes That Children Are Our Future...

It is 7:45 in the god-forsaken a.m. and The Sheep is sitting blearily at her desk attempting to summon up the will to educate the masses for another seven hours. Several students enter the classroom with all the boundless joy of pre-teens gearing up to start the day. Among them is Young Mr. Creativity.

Young Mr. Creativity: Hey, Ms. Sheep! Guess what?

Ms. Sheep: Why, hey yourself, you little future taxpayer who will be supporting me in my old age! I find myself unable to guess! Pray, share with your teacher who lives to give you the knowledge you will need to make the world a better place.

YMC: Last night, I took apart a mechanical pencil and made...A Thingy Of Doom!!!

MS: ....

YMC: (in a louder voice and with grand arm gestures) A THINGY OF DOOOOOOOOM!!!

MS: Um...why, that's so very...special, my little public school angel. Perhaps you could tell me just a little bit more about this? You know, so I can alert the Nobel people or say...some sort of "proper authority..."

YMC: OK, so I took apart this mechanical pencil ('cause it was my sister's and I hate her) and it had this little springy thing in it so I rigged it up to fling little paper wads.

MS: Little paper wads, you say! How very clever of you, bringer of light to this teacher's dull existence. Just out of curiosity...you aren't using it to fling anything else, by any chance? Like, say, I dunno, nails or fiery things?

YMC: (looking at MS in a somewhat pitying fashion) No. That wouldn't be safe. Sheesh!

I am hopeful, people. Truly hopeful. They may be making Thingies Of Doom, but they have a certain sense of responsibility about the whole thing. I have a number of students in my tender care, but Young Mr. Creativity is my favorite. Yes, we have them...no sense trying to hide it. And he's mine because how can you not love a kid who makes a Thingy of Doom in his spare time?

And I'm pretty sure he knows this...

In spare moments between molding young minds so that they can later become villains straight out of a Bond flick, I have been knitting merrily away on my new socks. The gussets are done thanks to this afternoon's session on the stationary bike and a foot is appearing before my very eyes. This is not going to be like the Socks Of Immense Proportions and will have a much more fitted look. So much so that I question whether it will allow for circulation below mid-calf, but I'm too far into it stop now. There is no way that these bad boys are going to slip down at any point.

Even if I someday have to flee at top speed from a giant paperwad flung by a Thingy Of Doom. Safety first, I always say...


Monday, October 23, 2006

Let The Healing Begin!

"Twas a busy day for The Sheep. My Hysterical Mind continues to obsess over our new rash which appeared after a reaction to the adhesive on the cheap bandages which I so carelessly applied to my torso. HM remains convinced, despite all evidence to the contrary, that we have a flesh eating bacteria and no amount of logic thrown at it by my brain's better half, Rational Mind, will sway it.

I spent the day of listening to them bicker back and forth, HM inventing symptoms and statistics from the Center For Disease Control that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that we need to write a Living Will within the next ten minutes and RM shaking it's head sadly while pointing out that the rash is clearly subsiding. It was sort of hard to concentrate...

I finally decided to distract Hysterical Mind with a flu shot. These are covered fully under my school's health plan if you use their clinic and it seemed like a good idea with or without the need to distract over-reacting brain cells. There is nothing HM loves more than medical procedures, no matter how minor. It gets all giddy at the thought of possible medical malpractice or random infections. Plus we got all kinds of cool literature outlining potential side effects and what to do should any of these symptoms manifest themselves. This should keep the little feller occupied for a few hours so Rational Mind and I can take a break.

I came home to a flashing light on the answering machine and a little piece of good news. One that should shut up Hysterical Mind for the foreseeable future. The x-ray results are in and, drum roll pu-leeeeeze:

I no longer have pneumonia!

Hey, it may have taken me five months, but I finally got a clear chest x-ray. There has been healing of epic proportions over here at the Sheep household, lemme tellya! My Rational Mind, who has been championing our slow but steady road to recovery, is feeling quite vindicated at the moment.

In celebration, I decided to take another picture of the Feather And Fan Scarf. There was to be one yesterday, but I inadvertently deleted it before saving it to the computer and I was too tuckered out from all the rash-obsessing and sock-knitting to take another. So here it is, in all it's glory:

Its got feathers, its got fans...its got more than a few errors, but we're just going to ignore those for the moment.
So Hysterical Mind, Rational Mind and the Sheep who houses them are all pleasantly occupied this evening. There is some disturbing reading material for one, a clean bill of lung health for another and some knitted goodness for the latter.
Gotta keep everybody happy...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I Like Knitting...

OK. We're done with the ranting. Its nice every now and again to do a little PSA in the blog, but there's really only so much of that for which I have the oomph. Frankly, I think I'm just a grumpy Sheep right now 'cuz I didn't get to go to Rhinebeck. I decided to stay home and tend to my finances (or lack thereof), babysit my cranky truck (there's another story there which I will share another time) and get a portion of my skin removed at the doctor's office.

With regard to the latter, we've finally stopped the site from leaking Sheepie corpuscles all over my tummy and the spots of slicing 'n dicing seem to be healing, which is delightful. However, I have developed a lovely rash around the general area and this is not delightful. This is, in all likelihood, a reaction to the adhesive on the bandages I needed in order to keep the red blood cells on the inside of the skin. But that charming side of my brain that I have dubbed "Hysterical Mind" and who has made a few guest appearances on the blog has reviewed the situation and decided that we have contracted a particularly virulent form of flesh-eating bacteria. To my way of thinking, the melanoma was a far more attractive option both visually and medically...

We seem to be straying somewhere near Rantsville again, I fear. Lets reign it in a bit and chat about some knitting. I like knitting.

Knitting is all about control, as far as I can tell. For example, say you're knitting something that has been on the needles for what seems like an age and a half. Just for the sake of discussion, lets imagine that it is a Chevron Stripes Towel. And you've really been enjoying it, but fear that the love is soon to take a swirling trip down the drain of the UFO sink if you don't do something quickly. All you need to do is wave your needles, say the magic words, "castofficus" and presto!

Its a hand towel! And a finished one at that!
Or perhaps you are knitting a Feather And Fan scarf as a holiday gift, but fear that you will run out of yarn and are unable to obtain more. You can just pop it onto a stitch holder for later consideration, wind up some purty yarn cakes made of the plentiful Koigu you purchased a while back and voila!
You have the start of a new scarf in merino. What you don't have is a picture since you deleted it from the camera thinking that you'd already saved it to the computer. You can just tell everyone to use their imaginations...
Or, if all else fails, you can say, "to heck with the holiday knitting," and just knit a sock since that's really all you feel like doing besides scratching that stupid rash.

And so thats what I did.

This yarn is a beautiful handpainted Superwash Kona Merino courtesy of Susie. She sent it to me following a somewhat disastrous episode involving the death of a sock a few months ago. The sight of the carnage moved her to offer a replacement yarn. It seems that knitting with a better class of fiber does, in fact, make for a better sock! This is a very fine fiber and amazingly soft to the touch. I've opted to go with a size one needle this time and see if I can't come up with a hoof covering that is a bit more fitted. Despite the finer gauge, I'm zipping right along. I started these after my dissection at the doctor's office on Thursday. Even with a few other little projects, I'm still making decent progress. This yarn just calls to you!!!!

It seems I was able to find some meaning in my weekend despite not being able to go to Rhinebeck. I will be eagerly scanning the blogosphere for footage of the event. So, if you were there, I heartily implore you to report out in full. I will drink in the descriptions and images and pretend I was there. Imagination is another form of control.

And perhaps I'll see if I can't re-create that stupid scarf photo...


Saturday, October 21, 2006

And Now: Your Promised "Rant."

In my last post, I gave everyone who needed it the time to fire up their DVRs and catch up on the Project Runway finale prior to my cutting loose on the whole sad affair. If you have been busy with more pertinent things like curing cancer or feeding the starving then you may want to navigate away to a different blog and come back at another date. Today is the day. I can hold back no longer...

The Sheep is not generally one for professing hard-core opinions, at least not in this venue. Frankly, I'm just not that good at "living out loud" and tend to prefer the lighter side of blogging. While this really just makes me yet another one of those folks who takes advantage of the easy out known as "observational humor" I really do believe that it's the little stuff in life that makes us want to gather up a basketful of rotten fruit, climb the nearest clock tower and start flinging at moving targets. Plus, I'm kinda wimpy and don't want to make anybody mad at me.

I think this rant is going to be somewhere in the middle, twitching a bit between social commentary and the silly stuff.

Are we ready? Here goes:

Me 'n Project Runway...we're done. It's over. I didn't even make it to the final credits. And it is not for the reason you might think. While I had some thoughts about who should have won, I actually made the break at a different point. It happened with these words (paraphrased to some degree):

Uli, you have designed a collection that any woman would want to wear. Followed by: You're out.

Uli then got the bi-cheek kiss off, leaving Jeffrey standing in the winner's spotlight. Because he's "innovative."

Jeffrey. The designer who was willing to risk his continued participation in the show by admittedly designing an unflattering outfit for a model (Angela's mother) simply because he did not like her and didn't seem to feel that she was worthy of his creative genius. The charming gentleman who made it clear that his work was for the young, the hip and the edgy and that no other style of dress was worthy of the runway.

I'll give the producers credit. At least they stayed true to their apparent mission statement. Throughout the season there were multiple examples of their commitment to a limited clientele. The Everyday Woman challenge was a prime example. None of the designers seemed able to work comfortably with women who were of average proportions and didn't know how to high step down a runway. Several expressed concern with regard to their ability to dress something other than a toothpick. Their concepts, across the board, were ill-fitting and unflattering. Laura probably came the closest to the mark, but was ultimately too conservative for the judges' tastes. In another episode, one of the most talented designers on the show was eliminated due to her inability to successfully dress one of the, as Tim Gunn put it, "larger" models. This poor dumpy girl was at least twenty five pounds lighter than I and a good five inches taller. Allison was summarily dismissed after being chastised for her design choices when dressing a bigger person. Boy, oh, boy did I go to bed feeling good about me on that night..

Here's the thing: I understand that what we see on the runway is "concept." It is the bold-faced version of what we will later find hanging on the racks. But, when the designers, corporations and magazine editors continue to judge their acceptability based on how well they work "in show" rather than what real people will look like in them, then they are sending a message that gives me the cringes.

I'm tired of apologizing to the beautiful people for my existence as an average woman. Or worse, feeling like that existence is merely to provide contrast to their fabulousness. For a fee, however, I will offer what is my apparent girth as shade to their fragile forms on sunny days. Beacause, clearly, I need to find some meaning in my life...

I don't feel that I should have to compromise style due to the fact that I don't meet the standards of "worthy" put out there by Project Runway. I am middle-aged. I have lived a life and it shows. Some days more than others. I am comfortable in my skin and that is a good thing considering that I seem to have far more of it than I did ten years ago.

If Project Runway's definition of a winner is Jeffrey, then I'm glad they stayed trued to their liposuctioned hearts. I can respect them for their Botoxed honesty. But when they dismiss the runner up by telling her that she has designed for the "everyday woman" then I'm out. And my "good-bye" was not in German. There were gestures involved and a combination of farewells that drew from a variety of cultures. And none that I will repeat here...the cats are still in therapy over the whole thing.

Jeffrey, I wish you luck in your career. You do have passion. And, unlike others, you found more humility in your wins than you did in your losses. As you watched others take the prize, we saw you at your most defensive and surly. Perhaps you'll find a little peace now that there is some acceptance and validation in your life.

In other news, here's something I'm proud to say you'll never see on Project Runway:

The start of a nice, new sock!
I think I'll leave you with that happy image. More on this lovely yarn in another post. I'm sort of tired now.
A good rant will really take it out of you!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Insert Dopey Grin Here

The original plan for today's post was a lengthy rant on the subject of the Project Runway finale. While I remain ready to "let rip," it occurred to me that some folks may not have caught it yet. I will give you all a minute to "TiVo up" and then I will share my opinion. It is a good rant, full of pithy observations and social commentary. Look me up over the weekend. Methinks you'll enjoy.

I then got a hankerin' to go into the trials of my day today. I was going to moan about having to get yet another chest x-ray at 8:15 in the morning and how they've gotten so repetitious that I'm not even intimidated by the potential findings anymore. I was then privileged to experience two hours in the doctor's office. There is now a yard and a half of skin that is no longer on my torso courtesy of a biopsy that ended up being a bit more "aggressive" than originally planned. While I exaggerate about the amount, I'm still bleeding so I feel somewhat entitled. But she didn't weigh me and that was my true worry so I suppose that everything is still operating in the "credit" column at this point. And I no longer have to contemplate removing a limb to get rid of those extra ten pounds. They are currently on their way to the lab as samples.

But, here's the thing: an evening where you get to stay up an hour later to watch TV and a day of medical appointments adds up to a heck of a lot of knitting time. By the time I left Dr. Slice-Alot's office I had finished a Sock Of Immense Proportions. And given that I already had one at home in the "finished" basket that means:

We have a pair!
These little beauties (and I use the word "little"somewhat loosely here) are brought to you in their entirety by the generous April. She gifted me with a prize a while back that included not only the yarn, but the needles upon which they were knit. Picture me on the next snow-day, home from school and having just come in from digging out my car. I'll be singing the "April Is The Greatest" song as I slip on my soft, warm and super cuddly socks.
So despite a few glitches like bleeding, wondering whether I will be able to wear my usual support-giving underpinnings tomorrow or if I will just have to risk scarring a few pre-teen boys for life, I'm just too full of the "happy" to be bothered.
Is there anything better than a new pair of handknit socks?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Beating The System.

In an effort to take charge of several situations, The Sheep roused herself a bit earlier this morning. She layered herself in her warmest of garments in order that she might combat the arctic chill that has gripped her teaching environment over the past two days. It was either that or begin to keep a journal that could later be made into a blockbuster movie detailing the lengths to which a Sheep will go to survive the public school system's harsh climate.

She then marched to her vehicle where she proceeded to strike back at boring drive time radio drivel by loading the CD player with an audio book. It's one she's read before, but an enjoyable listen all the same. And the readers voice? So very soothing...

Yes, I was a warm and snuggly Sheep speeding down the Maine Turnpike today, a little bit tired from the morning's extra activity but generally pleased with myself. I was, in fact, so warm and engrossed in my little audio tale as told by the velvet tongued reader that I managed to successfully lull myself into an exit-missing stupor.

Yup. Drove right by it. The same exit I have taken without fail for four years now. Don't even recall seeing it...

Those of you familiar with the area will realize the issues involved with missing the Wells exit as you head southbound. You are sort of locked into the southern trajectory at that point. You will be going to York whether you want to or not. Unless you are braver than I and can do that u-turn thing where it says, "no u-turn," you're going the extra eleven miles. And you're paying the extra $1.75. Twice since you need to get back on the turnpike to go eleven miles north again and your EZ pass doesn't reach that far.

That, combined with the fact that it was a lovely mild day in southern Maine today that required nothing remotely resembling snuggly layers of clothing, made for a rough start. Toss in the first round of Parent/Teacher conferences after school and you've got a long day in the works. A long warm day that cost $3.50 more than it should have not counting the gas and the bag of chocolate/peanut butter flavored popcorn that I had to buy on the way home to combat the grumpies.

The popcorn was also something of a judgment error as I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow and somehow need to lose ten pounds in the next twelve hours. I'm thinking of cutting off a limb...

Perhaps I need some sock knitting time. We are well past the part of the sock where things tend to go horrifically wrong so this could make for a nice evening. Hey, I could even scoot down to the truck and grab the last CD so I can listen to the end of that book tonight!

We won't be listening to it on the workday commute again, that's for sure!!


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ice Queen Strikes Back

I have survived another day in the frozen wilderness also known as my classroom. It was a near thing, though. By 10:00 I had lost all sensation in my fingers and toes. By noon, I could move myself across the room through the sheer vibrations caused by my shivers. At 2:00 my body began to shut itself down in order that it might preserve heart and brain functioning. I don't recall much after that save a bright light and seeing my grammy waving at me with one of her lovely hand crocheted toilet tissue cozies. (it was the one with doll affixed to the top, thus making the roll of tissue look like a baby blue hoop skirt...stunning!)

It's going to be a long winter if someone over at central office doesn't take pity on us and turn the heat on. I am not an Icelandic Sheep, after all.

And, no. There was nary a flutter from Hot Flash Central. Where are those things when I need them?

Now I learn that Knitty has already published a pattern for a nose-warmer! C'mon! I was going to retire on that little idea. Maybe I can come up with a solar powered one. Or one that is self-picking...I'll keep working on it. I need to keep my mind active what with all the potential brain damage awaiting me in the upcoming months of arctic temperatures in my classroom.

Meanwhile, I am inspired to finish The Socks Of Immense Proportions speedily. My feet will surely need some socky love in this harsh and unforgiving environment. Despite fingers blackened by public-school-frostbite, I have pushed my way past the gussets and am ready to make a foot happen. As Persephone was hunkered down in her usual spot where she can handily hide the remote underneath her fluffy goodness, I figured she could do double duty as a sock model:

The remote is under her head...
I have the warmest TV remote control in all the world. It doesn't matter where it might be located on the couch, she will proceed to cover it with her fluff then sit back and watch the show as Mommy goes on a frantic hunt. Mommy will expend more energy looking for the remote than she would had she simply walked to the television and just changed the channel. In many ways, Mommy is very in touch with her "dude side."
I will knit like the wind and finish these things before the weekend, barring sock related tragedy. (Which is highly likely, given my track record. But I am cold and motivated so that could help me turn the corner...) Then I will begin work on another pair with a matching hat and hand warmers. I will swaddle myself in wooly goodness, waddle into school and say, "Take that, O Frigid Classroom!"
And that's when the hot flashes will return. You just know it...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Hot News Flash!

The Sheep is trying very hard to revel in the joys that come with maturity. And she is trying equally hard to not blog about it when those joys become less than...well...joyful.

But, I am stumped here. Truly flummoxed. Baffled, if you will. Just when I think I'm getting handle on the whole thing, the process takes a weird turn. You think you've found a creative way to use the random quirks and you're reminded once again that you're just not the one in control at this juncture.

I spent the end of the work week and a good part of the weekend flinging open windows and allowing the frosty winds to billow about me in an attempt to cool the raging hormonal fires. I mopped my brow and pondered the feasibility of wearing a tube top and hot pants to work. I'm barely into my forties, for crying out loud! How the heck did this happen?????

I arrived at school this morning to find my classroom unheated and with the overhead fans a' blowing. It was chilly enough that I wondered if little white flakes might begin gently sifting down from the light fixtures.

And I rejoiced.

For I, The Sheep, am the master of warmth. I can independently generate enough internal heat that I will weather this meat locker that is my teaching environment. I will survive! Take that all you young hormonally balanced types!!!

Do you think I could muster up so much as a blip on the hot flash radar? Was there even a twinkle of perspiration upon my furrowed brow?

There was not. I shivered, I quaked, I rubbed my frost-bitten fingers together and tried to generate a hormonal onslaught through sheer force of will. I got nuthin'. Zip. There is no winning this game.

So, The Sheep has made the executive decision to cast aside all holiday knitting and focus on socks and handwarmers. And I'm going to invent a nose-warmer. You know, a little something that I can perch on the tip of my snout to keep the chill away from that over-exposed piece of sheep-flesh. Seriously...that room was freakin' cold! And last year's staff assure me that it will get no better.

Speaking of the classroom, I've got a busy week ahead what with parent/teacher conferences and the nose-warmer inventing. I may be a bit spotty on the blogging and commenting but will make every effort to keep up with you all.

Who else is gonna listen to me at this point? I'm a temperature challenged Sheep who wishes to sport a nose-warmer.


Sunday, October 15, 2006


That's code for: The Sheep is working on a number of quite simple projects and they are taking her an inexplicably long time. Admittedly, I had some bumps along the road. There was that little heel flap "incident" that required I start the whole sock over. OK...so it was more about my ripping the whole thing apart than about the problem with the heel flap, but it was a do-over no matter how you look at it. And I had the whole shopping and getting my hair cut thing to take care of yesterday which took up some of the knitting time. But, I really have scads of time to knit over here at Action Central. (you'll have to imagine the sarcastic tone used when I say, "action central." I don't really get out all that much...") Frankly, I'm at a loss as to how to explain how little I've gotten done over the last month. But, for lack of a finished object to share, here's where we stand as of this afternoon:

On the left we have one Sock Of Immense Proportions and it's intended mate who is currently in the early stages of flapping. This seems to be a tricky time in the sock development progression and we are all watching the situation closely for complications. On the right, we can see The Scarf That Will Probably Amount To Nothing. This is the Feather And Fan scarf that I started using some very "skrititchy" sock yarn that I just couldn't bear to think of upon my tender little toes. It was really just for practice, but I sort of like it and now I can't seem to stop. I don't actually have enough of the yarn to complete a scarf, but this doesn't seem to be deterring me in the least. I just keep going... I'll pretend that it is some sort of rectangular doily and drape it over the back of a chair or something. It'll give the cats something to ponder.
Now, the great School Picture Purge of aught six...that's going swimmingly! To date, I have unloaded 8 of the unwanted wallet sized pictures upon hapless friends and acquaintances. They are zipping across this great land of ours just like they were something people actually wanted. I successfully located return addresses from some of those unlucky souls who had the misfortune to sponsor blog contests and was able to get two more in the mail early this past week. Please don't mistake this for any level of organization. Basically what happens is this: The Sheep gets a package; The Sheep does a happy dance; The Sheep opens the package and flings the outer box or wrapping aside so that she can play with her new thingie; The Sheep stumbles across the package or box while searching for matching socks or a pen. Boom! She's got herself another address! (note: I received another blog prize last week...and I can see that envelope from where I'm sitting right now. Tremble, oh helpless victim. My gi-normous head may be heading your way at any moment)
Really, the whole thing has gone quite well. We've had one minor blackmail incident that may involve some negotiations around where my big, fluffy kitty will be living. But,to date, there have been no repercussions despite the whole stalker-like weirdness that comes with sending your somewhat scary school picture to people who have done nothing save hold a little contest. And, with regard to the blackmail attempt, if it does come down to kitty negotiations in order that I might keep my dour visage off some "lonely sheep" website Persephone could do worse than living with The Goat Girl of CA.
I will rid myself of these things if its the last thing I do, I tells ya!!!!
Things are really pretty quiet here in Sheepland. The truck seems to be running, my sore "back" has returned to it's former state of spryness and the kitties are all sleeping soundly and eagerly awaiting mommy's return to the workweek so that they might go about their usual schedules unencumbered by my neediness.
Stay tuned for more fascinating updates!!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Grin Like A Maniac And Force The "Happy"

All right. Enough with the grumpies. Sure, you're a middle aged Sheep with a tweaked tushy, but that doesn't mean that you have to fuss about it. We're gonna go to our "happy place." We're gonna find the joy.

Sure, I could post about how, after a reasonably positive week with the kiddies at school, yesterday turned into a rousing game of "Not It" between me and my staff as we vied to not be the unlucky individual forced to deal with the preteen Sturm and Drang. But that wouldn't be in the spirit of Happy, now would it?

I could rant about my grocery shopping experience last night that included a "creatively" bagged cantaloupe being precariously placed on top of other items. This free spirited fruit then opted to go AWOL leading to a somewhat awkward search and seizure mission throughout the back of an SUV under cover of darkness. The wayward melon was captured and rebagged more securely where it promptly scrunched a bag of potato chips in retaliation. I probably didn't need them anyway. But, we're not here to talk about shopping snafus, are we?

Let's look at happier things.

I awoke today to temps in the thirties. That's Fahrenheit and nippy for those who are all Celsius and stuff. This prompted me to cast on for another attempt at completing the second Sock Of Immense Proportions as I'm thinking that this cold thing might be something of a trend given the season. It was also chilly enough to warrant a turtleneck and there is nothing better for covering the middle aged neck wattle, dontcha know.

I also scored at my favorite off-price-honest-it-just-fell-off-the-truck store where I found my favorite J Crew and Eddie Bauer jeans for under twenty bucks. I have a few issues with "fit" and will comb the earth if necessary to find a mid-rise, boy cut, straight jean. Fortunately, I don't have to as the off-price store is mere minutes from my home. I may be a year out of season, but my jeans fit, by gum!!!

Next up, I hit my favorite used book store where I found exactly what I was looking for (although it wasn't a used copy) and then I got to visit with my favorite scary stylist and have her decide how I was going to be wearing my hair for the next four weeks. Really, it is quite nice to have someone else make those types of decisions. I used to have a spine. I saw it in an x-ray once. But it disappears in the presence of my hair dresser and I really don't feel all that badly about it. One less thing to think about...and I don't have great judgment with regard to my hair anyway.

All this morning activity pretty much took it out of me and I had just enough energy to cook up my frozen pizza, snarf it down with a few crushed chips and settle in for some reading and a long nap with a warm, snuggly kitty. This is a good day...

And speaking of kitties (another happy thing), this is for April who has none too gently indicated that I should pack up my big, fluffy kitty and ship her out to sunny California:

The Big, Fluffy Kitty is mine.


But you may feel free to gaze upon her snuggly goodness to your heart's content.

She is very sorry that she cannot come to visit with you. But she is booked up for the foreseeable future attending to my napping needs.

Must go feed the big, fluffy kitty and her smaller, less fluffy counterpart now.

(happy to the point of needing medication) SA

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Middle Age: 1 Sheep: 0

You know...I remember a time when I could skootch down and pick up a fallen notebook from the floor to assist a student and not tweak my tuchas. I don't want to brag or anything but I was skootching at an almost professional level. Sports Illustrated wanted to do a full article on my ability to hunker down on the floor and speak to small children or retrieve lost bottle caps, but I opted to keep it low profile. I know I said in yesterday's post that I hurt my back, but I was just being polite. I pulled that nice big muscle in my hienie. For what it's worth, the pain has spread both north and south so I actually do have back pain at this writing.

I also remember those halcyon days when the decision to wear a turtleneck on a chilly, rainy morning that later turned out to be on the mild side didn't morph into a mistake of epic proportions. Sure, I might have been a tiny bit uncomfortable. But it was nowhere near the drama of suffering through the extra fabric as my internal temperature gauge fluctuated wildly according to some hormonally managed system that I neither understand nor control.

For that matter, how is it possible that I can remember days of yore, but couldn't seem to recall the fact that I was in need of toilet paper when I stopped off at the store on the way home today? It was certainly enough of an issue this morning that it should have registered on some level. Should have...but didn't. Ask me what I wore to the Huey Lewis and The News concert in '82 and I can go into excruciating detail. (I looked adorable in all my twenty-something cuteness) Yet, somehow, the immediate and pressing need for toilet paper never even made the top ten in terms of "important things to never, ever forget."

I'm old. I creak. I have a hienie pull. And there's the toilet paper thing...

But, I guess you gotta look at the big picture. There is really only one alternative to aging. And I'm thinking that it will involve laying down and wearing the same shoes for all eternity. Time marches on, for sure. But I'm stumbling along with it.

My aged fingers have spent this week knitting along on a Feather And Fan Scarf. I snagged some of the less-than-sockable sock yarn from the stash for this project. It has been a sort of fun pattern and I've decided to give myself over fully to the enjoyment of it all. This despite the fact that I may have underestimated the amount of yarn I'll need to actually complete a scarf of any usable length. Truth be told, I really didn't think I would like knitting it and sort of took it on to get it out of my system. I figured I'd give up on it quickly as I generally don't knit anything that has a lacy look to it. Who knew?

It seems, with age, comes wisdom and maybe even a little patience. I'll be darned. I guess I'm just all bustin' at the seams with the wisdom at this point.

I got so much wisdom going on that it just pushed that little mental sticky note that said, "buy toilet paper" right off the desk that is my mind.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Phun At The Pharmacy...

First of all, let me state clearly and for the record: I understand that being a pharmacist means more than just putting pills into bottles. It is a highly specialized job that requires a great deal of training, education and ongoing study. You need "knowledge." And 99% of that knowledge is the stuff that keeps me from dying or growing third eye. It is truly more than just putting pills into bottles.

But you gotta understand what it looks like from my side of the counter. Especially after a long day.

It can be harder to remember what you know about the job when you are told that it will be a 25 minute wait, (which is more than reasonable) and you head out to run a few errands only to return 25 minutes later to learn that your prescription is still sitting exactly where the technician left it when she took it from your happy little hands. It becomes harder still when you realize that you are dealing with the same pharmacist who spoke, um, well..."harshly" to you during your last visit because your doctor neglected to put their DEA # of the 'scrip. (and believe you me, I made sure that multi-digit number was there this time, lemme tellya!) The act of remembering becomes almost impossible when you factor in that you pulled your back today while picking up a notebook that had been thrown to the floor in anger and are feeling old and rickety because you are being forced to admit that it was less about the actual action than the result of having chosen cute shoes that do not support your ancient ligaments.

So if the other lady and I who were stuck waiting for another 20 minutes opted to spend the time heckling the pharmacy staff, well, you'll just have to forgive us. If it helps, I don't feel all that good about myself... For what its worth, the pharmacy people seemed to take it in good humor and I'm pretty sure that I don't have a pill bottle full of rat poison or laxatives.

But, you know what can turn any kind of day around? Yarn!!! And if it happens to be yarn won in a contest drawing, well that's so much the better isn't it? Now, I normally use the big, fluffy kitty as a distraction from unfinished knitting or to draw the eye away from the unsightly errors I so often make. Please know that this was not the case here and that numerous attempts were made to take a kitty-free photo.

She was having none of it...
Persephone is truly a knitter's cat. What can I say? She was just completely mesmerized by the beauty of the sock yarn from La's Laboratory that came to me courtesy of Noolie and her Light The Night Walk donation contest. I was privileged to be able to contribute to such a worthy cause and thrilled to have some super-soft yarn and a little snack to enjoy with the knitting. Can you guess the name of the colorway? Good candy, great yarn color!!!
So I end the day with medications in hand and new yarn if not a spring in my step thanks to the little back twinge. That's OK...I don't knit with my back anyway.
Off to hug some yarn and load up my daily pill dispenser. Life is good!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

One Cool Sheep...

Another sock has died an untimely death here at Casa de Sheepie. There was yet another heel flap issue, this time involving a "to slip or not to slip" sort of situation. I'm thinking that there might have been a split in the yarn which resulted in some confusion as to what was a stitch and what was just a figment of my imagination.

As I was never all that thrilled with the join at the top of the cuff, I just said a hearty, "screw it" and frogged the whole thing. You'd think I'd be a bit more upset over the whole matter.

But I didn't miss a beat. Whatever, dude... The world doesn't turn based on whether or not I have two socks with which to cover my feet. It'll get done. But not tonight. I'm thinking that I will switch up the plan and do the holiday knitting during the week just for a snort and a giggle. For several weeks now I have been reserving the weekend for Christmas gifts and the like, leaving weeknights free for my own little Sock-o-rama. I'm feeling all reckless and stuff, though. Gotta love free will! I'm gonna work on a towel and a scarf and there ain't no one to tell me I can't.

I suppose the whole devil-may-care attitude may come from having received a certified letter today. Actually, the slip was put in my box last week, but I sort of chose to ignore it at that point. I've never had good news come via certified mail. And it seemed unlikely that, while I recover financially from my recent interruption in the paycheck cycle, this was going to be word from someone who just wanted to wish me a cheery, "how-de-doo" and perhaps offer me a jet ski. No, it was far more realistic to think that I might have missed a bill somewhere in there and that this was going to be something in the form of "chastisement."

Sadly, one can only avoid the US Mail for so long. They are persistent little buggers. I had little choice but to respond to their latest notice and go face what I thought might be bitter music. Turns out the letter was just from some company that wants to build some stupid thing in my area and was forced to mail us all letters with regard to environmental impact and possible mental stress. It seems they are having an informational meeting soon.

I may go to the meeting and stage a protest just to pay them back for all they angst. I'll make up signs that say, "Save the endangered Yankee Sheep!" and march around whipping up public sympathy. That'll teach 'em to make me drive all the way to the post office thinking that I have to come up with yet another "valid reason" for nonpayment of something that I don't actually remember having.

But I'm not going to. The Big Bad Building Men In Suits have taught me the meaning of "perspective." We are stress-free on the sock issue. For that, I'll give them a pass.

This time...


Monday, October 09, 2006

Lemony Fresh!

It's Columbus Day here in the US. 'Tis a day where 50% of the population takes the day off to celebrate the historical documentation of the fact that no man will ask for directions no matter how lost he might be.

The Sheep is one of those lucky celebrants who gets a holiday today and is mighty grateful for the time off. I even managed to come up with some thoughts for how to spend my extra day of freedom.

Before I get too much further into this, I should probably let you all in on one small, but vital, piece of information. The Sheep ran out of meds. Well, there is one left, but we're judiciously saving that one. Personally, I think I'm just a heck of a lot more grins and giggles without my Concerta. As long as you're not depending on me to pay a bill, get to work or drive you to the hospital, ADD can be fun for the whole family. But the charm wears off quickly, even for me. Basically my whole life can be pared down to these two utterances: "Ooooooo! I have an idea!!!" and "Who's stupid idea was this anyway?"

Thus, it is probably not all that shocking that I decided to do a little housecleaning today and that giving the kitchen floor a "good, old-fashioned, hands 'n knees scrubbing" should be the first order of the day. Now, I've never actually done this before. Sure, I've mopped and will wipe up the occasional spill (after a fashion). So I didn't really know just where to start with this type of operation. But I've seen some pictures and it didn't look all that hard really. Near as I could tell I would need a bucket, scrubby-brush-thingie, high heels, full skirt with petticoat and pearls.

Did I mention that these were pictures from the 50's? Probably not. At any rate, I didn't have the skirt and pearls but I sort of figured those might be optional. As it turns out, I also didn't have the bucket or the scrubby-brush-thingie but that I knew I could get at the grocery store. And we all know how well I typically do at the grocery store!

By 10:00 this morning, I had assembled what I felt were the necessary items for the floor scrubbing. I proceeded to begin sloshing large amounts of lemon-scented water around then crawling through it in search of grime.

Gotta say, I'm really not all that sure just what the appeal of this activity might be. Near as I can tell, all you really get out of the experience is half a shiny floor that smells like lemons and fully irritated felines with feet that smell like lemons. And, believe me now, there is no amount of reasoning that will convince a cat that you really need to rinse their feet.

I'm simply stumped as to why those well-coiffed ladies in the pictures looked so darned pleased with themselves. Maybe they didn't have cats. Maybe I'm doing it wrong. Maybe I really did need the heels and pearls. Either way, I abandoned the activity early on. (hence the reason behind half a shiny floor...)

Who's stupid idea was this anyway?????

In knitting news, I've reached the heel flap on sock #2, but put it aside at that point in order that I might focus more on the Chevron Stripes Towel. I sort of broke my promise that I would only knit for the holidays during the weekends when I opted to work on the sock during bowling this Saturday. I also cast on for a Feather And Fan scarf, but we've had a little tantrum with that and there will be no further discussion of the matter until I've reknit it back to where it was when I began the ripping and cussing.

The doctor's office will reopen on Wednesday. Things will get a bit more on track at that point!


Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Sheep Is Not An Athlete.

Sunday afternoon posts are generally all about the "finished." I am usually able to devote quite a bit of the day to fibery pursuits and will have something or other to share with the blogging world at that point. Yeah, yeah...lately its been nothing but dishcloths and half-finished towels, but I stand by my intentions. If nothing else, there is usually some visual progress.

Today began with all the hopes and dreams of a Sheep with a plan. It has been a beautiful, crisp Fall day and that is usually a good day for high energy and motivation. The Sheep awoke with a song in her heart and warm greetings for the kitty curled up on the pillow next to her head. It didn't even bother her that the greetings were bestowed upon a puckery little kitty butt that was mere centimeters from her face. This was gonna be a hum-dinger of a day, gosh darn it!!

Then I rolled over.

It was then that I found myself fully confronted by the facts of my age and physical condition. It seems that yesterday's bowling extravaganza with the nieces-by-proxy was a bit more of a workout than I'd realized.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a complete slug, here. I diligently pedal to nowhere for 45 minutes thrice weekly. I then follow that with a rousing round of picking up heavy things and putting them down slowly. I balance my less-than-graceful form on a vinyl ball and pray to the gods of middle age that the process will result in abs of steel rather than a concussion from hitting the floor as I flap my arms and flail my legs in a futile attempt to remain on this inflated torture device. I have even been known to occasionally put in half an hour or so on my Lateral Thigh Trainer.

To heck with all that. Just bowl. Good Lord, I'm sore today!!! The main pain centers seem to be conveniently located in my thighs and tuchas. I'm mobile and there is no real damage. Unless, of course, you want to count my ego. That is smarting somewhat. I am an out of shape Sheep. My fat cat is laughing at me.

While this really doesn't count as much of an excuse for not having done a heck of a lot today, its what I'm going with. In fairness, it did take me longer to make trips to the fridge for chilled chocolates so that took up part of the day. And there's a Law And Order, Special Victim's Unit Marathon on which was mildly diverting. Plus I spent an hour on the phone with my Mom. (she got a new coffee maker and is experimenting with a new type of mustard. I had to talk her through some of it...) Then there was my nap...it was a busy day.

Having discovered the usefulness of photographic diversionary tactics, I will use the following picture to show my current progress on the never-ending Chevron Stripes Towel:

The big fluffy kitty has worked as a diversion in the past...
I'm not a bad mother, really. I placed the towel over the big, fluffy kitty, tried to take the picture, noted that the batteries were low, located some more, loaded them in the camera and took two pictures. She never moved. She is truly her mother's child.
I also have a few more rounds completed on The Sock Of Immense Proportions Part Deux, but you can just comb the archives for a picture of the first if you are really all that committed to the idea of seeing a sock in progress. If you are that starved for sock viewing, I might suggest you have bigger problems, but I honestly don't think that I'm one to talk at this point. I've spent my day muttering to no one in particular about cramping in my butt.
Fortunately, this is a long weekend, thanks to Columbus Day in the states. I just love a "do-over."
Only 11 more pattern repeats until this towel if finished. Assuming I don't have some sort of "sleeping related" injury in the next 24 hours...I am that out of shape.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A Sheep In A Dark Alley.

Kate, in her comment on my last post, noted the level of difficulty I seem to have in my local grocery store. I wholeheartedly agree! But, its the law of averages, really. I grocery shop a lot. Not because I particularly enjoy it (I obviously don't) but because I tend to run out of things pretty regularly. I like to pretend that I'm all European and shop for my meals daily in order that I might obtain the freshest of ingredients for my dining pleasures. But, we all know that I live on frozen pizza so this is really just a tactic used to divert myself from all the shopping angst. The simple fact of the matter is this: I forget to get things when I'm in the store. I'd use my list, but I usually forget that, too. They know me well at the grocery store. They call me by name. They comment on my purchases. We're close...

However, today was a day to venture outside the Sheepie household and be in the public eye for a reason other than shopping. I had me a date with a couple of little cutie-patooties known to me as my nieces-by-proxy and to the rest of the world as CamMad. The eldest of the girls thought it might be a good time if Auntie Sheepie joined them on this weekend's bowling extravaganza and who am I to deny them? Before I get too far into this, let me explain "Maine Bowling" to those of you from away. We partake of a version of the sport known as "candlepin bowling" not the other kind. ( We call that "big ball bowling" and I'm not going to repeat that name so get the giggles out of your system now...) Candlepin is pretty much the only type of bowling offered in the state. Basically, the ball is smaller (softball size) and the pins a bit thinner. It is great for kids as the ball is a more manageable size. Even if you happen to be 2-almost-3, as in Cam's case.

Outings with the CamMad clan are always a good exercise in "reality" for this Sheep. Upon seeing them, I always seem to experience all those warm, snuggly feelings that many females of the species seem to get around small children. My ovaries begin to cramp and send frantic emails to my brain saying, " OMG!!!! Look at them!!! They are so little, and cute and they're all squishy when you hug them!!! And they are happy to see you!!! C'mon...we gotta get us a couple of those!!! How can we live another day if we don't get us a couple of those!!!!!!!!)

After the first hour of watching Mom and Dad deftly maneuvering the cute, squishy little ones through the activity of the day, all the while averting crises of body and emotion with the practiced execution of tag-team chainsaw jugglers, I start to take note of the fact that they look sort of tired. I start to wonder...if the world's most adorable and perfect children take this kind of work, how might The Sheep fare with a couple of her own offspring? Kids are sorta hard, near as I can tell. You have to feed and water them regularly and I'm not sure if my grocery shopping skills are up to that.

Still, it was a super-fun day. We all had the chance to perfect our individual bowling styles and, after much experimentation, have determined that the "Fling and Walk Away" method seems to yield the best results. No ball that is watched is going to hit as many pins as one that is left to it's own devices. We are also in the early design phase for our new bowling shirts. Dad seemed a bit iffy on the color scheme, but I'm working on that. I think pink looks quite stunning on everyone in bowling alley lighting... (Mom and the girls seem to be with me on this one)

Lunch was also to be part of the day, but that sort of fell apart when I made the ill-advised decision to follow the CamMad clan to the restaurant rather than go my own way and meet them there. What can I say? CamMad's dad is the best navigator out there and always knows a shortcut! Sadly, I lost sight of them on the highway and thus began a rather amusing episode involving the Sheep trustingly following a family-type station wagon that, while containing a family of some sort, was not the one with whom I was scheduled to dine. I thought he was taking a kind of odd route... At any rate, traffic and construction combined with a recent run of oddly timed events that have inexplicably kept me from being in bad traffic situations, made me decide to head back home for a Hot Pocket and a doughnut.

All in all, it was a good day out and about and the Hot Pocket wasn't half bad. I'm calling it a winner as Saturdays go.

I even brought the second Sock Of Immense Proportions and had one or two minutes to knit upon it in between dazzling onlookers with my unique bowling style. Sock #1 was Kitchenered last night and, surprisingly, does not fit badly. It seems that either my ability to gauge the actual size of an object is somewhat impaired or my feet have swollen to Immense Proportions. I'm thinking it might be a combination of both. Either way, its a good enough fit to call it a working sock. And I even managed to craftily repair that stupid heel gap in such a way that it almost hardly...sort of...mostly...doesn't show. Much...

You know, I remember my grandmother taking a wee little Sheepie and her cousins bowling many, many years ago. It was one of our favorite activities. We begged her to take us. I could never figure out why she napped for so long afterwards. I think I get it at this point.

The Sheep is now standing and saluting any and all parents out there. You are truly amazing. I honestly don't know how the heck you get your socks finished. I'm done standing now.

I need a nap...


Thursday, October 05, 2006

C'mon...Put Me In Charge!

First, I should note that I am a somewhat tired and grumpy Sheep this evening. It has been one of those days where you just question your career choice every twenty minutes or so. In between, you obsess endlessly on that long-ago marriage proposal that could have left you somewhere in the third year of your divorce by now and with decent alimony. This is probably the cause of my current desire to become a world dictator and to come up with some rules of society that, while rigid, will make life better for all of us. Well...that and the fact that I, a middle aged woman who has recently encountered some problems with internal temperature regulation, was promised a cool and crisp Fall day today and wore a sweater. I was hot. So very hot.

At any rate, I've come up with a new rule that I'd like the world to consider. I think it quite reasonable and easy to work with. I thus feel that the punishment for failure to follow it should be death. Preferably death by pinching or poking or something equally annoying. Here it is:

The middle aged, overheated lady lugging around the giant container of kitty litter gets the right-of-way in the grocery store. I understand that this might cause some difficulty for those folks who are confronted by long-lost relatives and need to catch up or who have suddenly noted items in their cart that weren't there when they first entered the checkout line. It happens to me frequently. I know that these things make you suddenly want to stop even if you happen to be in mid-aisle or blocking an exit. But the overheated lady hefting a jug of expensive sand that is roughly a third of her body weight needs to get by. Perhaps execution is an excessive punishment...

But rules are rules.

All right, all right...it is possible that I am overeacting after a long day and several instances over the last few weeks of being stalled behind other shoppers who had the common sense to get a shopping cart. Maybe we could do this:

If the offender has the wherewithal to at least acknowledge that he/she has made a shopping faux pas, then they get a pass. They don't even have to apologize. All I'm asking is that they take note of my quivering biceps and the vein bulging in my forehead. Maybe even move a few inches to the right...I'm nothing if not flexible even if I do have aspirations towards being the world overlord. Just the other day, I graciously forgave the guy who was blocking the conveyor belt at the check out by laying across it. He looked at me, blushed and said, "Whoops, what am I doing just laying on this thing? Lemme get outta your way there, little lady." See? No actual apology. Just an acknowledgment. That's good enough. Pardon granted!

I will be a benevolent overlord.

Fortunately, I am now home safe and sound and with cat litter aplenty for the kitties. I have also turned on a fan. This is slowly returning The Sheep to her usual charming self and perhaps things will settle down a bit. I'm hoping that I will be able to make some decent progress on the Sock Of Immense Proportions tonight. I've designated weekend knitting for finishing holiday type stuff so it'll be all Chevron Stripes Towel all the time for the knitting during this holiday weekend.

Unless I make some progress on the whole world overlord thing...then I'll probably be busy decorating the palace and choosing my coronation outfit.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Wednesday...We'll Do Some "Follow-ups."

Nothing new here in Sheepland. The Sheep is still safely ensconced in her rut with no FOs to show nor new stuff to report. Thus, she elects to follow up on tales past.

Regarding The Last Post: I agree wholeheartedly with all the commenters who stated that they would not want to live through the 6th grade again! Yikes!! And yet, I marvel at the strength of character it takes for a scorned girl to return to the scene of her humiliation. She did and with her head held high. Yay, girls!

Last Friday's Commute To Job #2: It seems that the reported "funnel cloud" was, in fact, a tornado. And it did a respectable amount of damage in the town where I teach. The 30 car pileup that I managed to avoid while dodging death by whirling winds was the result of excessive speed. People are stupid. Fortunately, none of them are dead and stupid. Injuries were minimal. And if you'd seen this mess, you'd be as surprised as I am. In addition to all this, it seems that we are now having earthquakes in the northern part of the state. Make your peace, people. The earth is doing some very funky and unheard of things up here!!

The Truck: For reasons known only to itself, it has decided to cut me some slack and turn off the engine light. Frankly, given that it is still not exactly purring like a kitten, I suspect that it gave up any hopes of my attending to it's needs and is currently just biding it's time. There will probably be some form of retribution for my lack of nurturing and I think it will probably occur in front of the cute guy in the sportscar.

School Pictures: Heh, heh...I've managed to locate a couple of your addresses thanks to some mailings. Is it you? Only time will tell. I will unload these things if its the last thing I do!!!

The Sock And The Cat:

Still kinda big...but pretty so its OK
With any luck, something new and exciting will happen in the next few days and give me some new material. Don't get me wrong. I'm not asking for boils or a bad hair day. But "smooth sailing" does not for good blogging make. And the likelihood of an FO is slim at this juncture.
Who knew that Sheep could be so mundane???

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Wrong Answer Will Ruin Your Day.

OK, people. Let's all hearken back to an earlier time. 6th grade, to be exact. Those happy, carefree days with your pals and the glory that is the "learning experience." Good times..

Hey, remember this one?

Hi! I like you. Do you like me? Circle one:

Yes No



That's the note, among several others, that got passed in the last thirty minutes of my teaching day today. Thirty minutes of my life (that I will never get back, mind you) which now hang upon a young man's answer. A young man who hasn't a clue in this world how to maneuver his pre-adolescent self around the minefield that is the feelings of the 6th grade girl. The world itself hushed in breathless anticipation.

The answer was, "NO." And it was circled several times. Boldly.

And there went the rest of the day. There was crying. There was pouting. There was the declaration that life, itself, is no longer worth living. There was little in the way of educational pursuits...


It seemed that I had earned a bit of a treat after the Oscar-worthy performance to which I was treated at ear-splitting decibels. Following this afternoon's workout, I took a nice hot bath and am currently hunkered down with a big bag of Maine Munchies Blueberry Yogurt Covered Raisins. I am not reading the label. I am not measuring out portion sizes. You can't make me. Don't even try...

Once I've completed my "feast of dysfunction," I will resume work on my little green sockie. The fact that it is really no longer a "little" sock is not going to daunt me. I may or may not have neglected to do a gauge swatch on this one. I may or may not have had some delusion that I know what I'm doing. I'm not confessing to anything. I'm just saying that this will be casual-at-home-floppy footwear and leaving it at that. It'll be fine.

Socks give your tootsies the love even if they don't fit exactly right. A sock will never circle, "no."